2013 NBA Lottery-Bound Teams with Biggest Offseason Needs
Before the summer, teams put together a to-do list in terms of trying to improve the roster.
The lists are usually longer for teams in the lottery.
General managers can look to build through the draft, whether it's trading up to grab a target or waiting for one to slip into their lap.
Or they could hit the free-agent market, a more costly approach.
Need: A Centerpiece
The problem with the Charlotte Bobcats' need is that the solution doesn't exist. At least not at the moment.
The free-agent market won't be an ideal field to pluck from either. I'm not sure overpaying for guys like Al Jefferson, Josh Smith or Andrew Bynum is the answer here.
If we're being honest, the Bobcats' needs won't be fulfilled during the 2013 offseason. They can add some pieces from the draft by taking the best player available, whether that's Noel, Ben McLemore or Anthony Bennett. They can also dip into the bottom portion of the free-agent pool and make a run at guys like J.J. Redick, Tony Allen or even O.J. Mayo.
But Charlotte's big offseason will come in 2014, when Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle and Andrew Harrison will all likely be available at the top of the draft.
The Bobcats can add some supporting members this summer, but 2014 is the year where they really make their move.
Need: Floor General
Sorry, Jameer Nelson fans, but it's time the Magic appoint a new floor general to lead the troops.
Their first option is to attack this need through the draft. Trey Burke will likely be available when they pick, whether that's No. 1 overall or No. 3.
Burke defined the term "floor general" in his sophomore year after guiding Michigan to a national championship appearance.
If the team feels it wants to address other needs through the draft, the free-agent pool is also open. The Bobcats could make an offer to restricted free agents Jeff Teague, Brandon Jennings or Darren Collison.
And though he's not a point guard, Monta Ellis recently hinted he's likely to opt out of his contract (Journal Times). Ellis could act as a lead guard who can complement Orlando's plethora of talented wings.
Need: Frontcourt Offense
Like most teams in the lottery, the Cavaliers have more than one need. But the first one they should address is finding a forward or center who can create or generate some offense.
The Cavs can find a cheap source of production here by building from this draft. There are viable options for this team to choose from.
Georgetown's Otto Porter and UNLV's Anthony Bennett would both be fits. Porter is more of a glue guy who can finish on the perimeter and at the rim, while providing some playmaking, rebounding and defense on a routine basis.
Bennett has big-time offensive upside if he can exploit his unique physical gifts.
There are also plenty of centers for the Cavs to choose from if they feel hesitant about resigning Anderson Varejao when his contract expires next summer.
Alex Len and Cody Zeller would both be frontcourt upgrades and potential long-term replacements.
Need: Star Power
The Suns have one of the most bland rosters in the league—no star power at any position or player to build the team around.
Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore and Anthony Bennett are your three non-point guards with All-Star potential in this draft. Assuming the Suns gets a top-five pick, chances are that one will be available, although there's obviously no guarantee.
McLemore would give them a scoring guard, Bennett would offer a potential frontcourt mismatch and Noel could be the anchor of the future.
Free agents Josh Smith, Al Jefferson, potentially Monta Ellis (if he opts out), O.J. Mayo and Tyreke Evans could also give this roster some extra shine.
Phoenix needs loads of help. It should be active during the summer in bringing in new talent, both young and established.
Need: Floor General/Go-To Scorer
The Pistons will have some money to spend this offseason with a number of their players' contracts expiring.
But who do they target?
Detroit seems fairly set at the 4 and 5 positions, and I'm not sure Josh Smith would be a solution on the wing.
If I'm the Pistons, I'm using this draft to fill a need here. With a top-six-or-so pick, they should be able to land a point guard, either Trey Burke or Michael Carter-Williams. Jose Calderon and Will Bynum are impending free agents, and Brandon Knight has excelled playing off the ball in the 2-spot.
Burke or Carter-Williams would both be solid options to build with at the point.
They could also find a wing in this draft, which they need considering Kyle Singler has been the starting small forward. The closest thing to a go-to scorer is likely Anthony Bennett, or maybe even Shabazz Muhammad.
But Bennett makes the most sense here as an inside-outside scorer. Otto Porter is the safer option who can fill the void left by Tayshaun Prince.
New Orleans Hornets
Need: Two-Way Center/Scoring Wing
The New Orleans Hornets have a team option on Robin Lopez this summer, and they could easily get a replacement from this year's draft.
I'm not saying the Hornets should let him walk, but they shouldn't spend a dime on another free-agent center.
Alex Len is a pretty ideal option here. At 7'1'', he can protect the rim yet has tremendous upside as an offensive player. His ceiling justifies a top-five pick, and the Hornets can fill a need and a want with it.
New Orleans could also use a scoring wing, although I'm not sure I'd overpay for Josh Smith. Patience is the name of the game when building a roster.
If the Hornets are unhappy with any of the center options in the draft, they should retain Lopez and look to select a guy like Anthony Bennett or Otto Porter. Both would slide right into the small forward position and likely get an opportunity to start right away.
Need: Combo Forward/Floor General
The Kings should build from the draft this offseason and stay away from the high-priced free agents. None of them fit and all are overpriced.
In terms of the rotation, this team lacks a floor general and a combo forward.
I like Isaiah Thomas, but not as my floor general. I like him as my spark off the bench to provide some instant offense.
Trey Burke is a guy the Kings should be looking to trade up for if necessary. He can control the offense and balance scoring with facilitating while keeping the ball secure. Michael Carter-Williams is another option, though he's still a few years away from being a regular NBA contributor.
The front court, on the other hand, is too predictable up front.
They've got low-percentage scorers at the wing and one-dimensional power forwards down low.
Points up front are where you get your easy baskets, and the Kings don't get enough of them.
A combo forward is an offensive mismatch—someone with size and strength to play the 4 and the quickness and agility to play the 3. The Kings could target Anthony Bennett of UNLV, who averaged over 16 points and eight rebounds.
Bennett, or Otto Porter, another versatile offensive forward, could be targets for Sacramento to trade up for if necessary.
Need: Above-the-Rim Presence/Scoring Wing
As good as John Wall is, he needs support from a scorer who can create offense on his own.
And just like almost every other team, Anthony Bennett and Otto Porter seem like the top options on the draft board.
Both of them can generate offense with the ball in their hands and have athleticism to mesh with Wall.
They could also use a power forward or center who can play above the rim and get some easy buckets in the half court—because Emeka Okafor and Nene Hilario cannot.
Alex Len and Mason Plumlee are both draft options as athletic centers who can run the floor and get some cheap points.
Need: Backcourt Athleticism/Scoring Wing
The Minnesota Timberwolves could find backcourt athleticism and a scoring wing in the same shot if they focus on the draft.
Ben McLemore is a guy they should look to trade up for (Derrick Williams anyone?), or wait on others like Shabazz Muhammad and Victor Oladipo.
Between Ricky Rubio, Alexey Shved and J.J. Barea, they also don't have a defensive ball-stopper. Oladipo would be ideal in this lineup, as would Tony Allen, who will be a free agent this summer.